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Maestri honored as Sun Belt COY

NEW ORLEANS — Don Maestri has been named the 2009 Sun Belt Coach of the Year, while juniors Brandon Hazzard, Richard Delk and Michael Vogler were each named All-Conference players by a vote of league coaches and media as announced by the Sun Belt office on Tuesday.

The award is the seventh for Maestri in his 27 seasons at the helm of the Trojans, but his first in the Sun Belt Conference. Maestri has won coach of the year awards in five different conferences, tying him with West Virginia’s Bob Huggins for the most among active coaches. Maestri led the Trojans to their first above .500 record since the 2003-04 season with a 19-11 finish and their first ever above .500 finish in the Sun Belt with a 14-4 record.

“A coach of the year award is totally different than an all-conference award,” Maestri said. “I compare it to if a player hit .600 in baseball and then received an award it was based on his individual performance. That is what all-conference awards are based upon, individual performances. The coach of the year award is a group award. To get it you have to have a successful season and that includes the coaches, players, both our managers – Christian Laing and Demarcus Weems, our athletic trainer – Alyson Steed, Barry McKnight – our broadcaster and our SID – Taylor Bryan. It is truly an honor for the whole group, not just the head coach.”

Hazzard was named to the first team after averaging 18.3 points per game in conference play and leading Troy to a 14-3 record in those games. He also shot a team-best 45 percent from behind the three-point arc. Hazzard was named the league’s Player of the Week three consecutive weeks from Feb. 2-18.

Delk, a first-year player at Troy, was named the Sun Belt’s second team and was also honored as the league’s Newcomer of the Year. Delk scored 14 ppg with five rebounds and 2.5 assists. He has started every game this season for Troy.

Vogler rounded out the Trojans’ awards with a third team honor. He leads the Sun Belt in both assists (161) and steals (57). He also averaged a career-best 10.2 ppg.